A Missouri government tip site for submitting complaints and concerns about gender-affirming care is down after people flooded it with fanfiction, rambling anecdotes and the “Bee Movie” script.
The Missouri Attorney General’s office launched an online form for “Transgender Center Concerns” in late March, inviting those who’ve witnessed “troubling practices” at clinics that provide gender-affirming care to submit tips. The site didn’t ask users to name patients or healthcare providers, but encouraged users to complete the form “in as much detail as possible.”
But after days of TikTok and Twitter users spamming the site with gibberish, the tip line has been removed from the Missouri government site entirely. Instead of the online form, the link to the tip line now says that the page no longer exists.
Madeline Sieren, press secretary for Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, blamed “far left activists” for breaking the site. She said the tip line is down temporarily.
“Rather than standing on their supposed science to back up their facts, they’re resorting to trying to hack our system to silence victims of the exact network we’re attempting to expose,” Sieren told TechCrunch in an email. “In order to ensure the integrity of a government website, the page is temporarily down while we investigate these matters.”
Sieren did not clarify what the “hack” entailed.
Bailey said his office set up the tip line for parents to submit concerns about the gender-affirming care their children received from transgender youth centers. He also issued an emergency rule severely restricting access to gender-affirming care.
PROMO, a Missouri LGBTQ advocacy organization, said Bailey “fanned the flames of hate” in issuing the emergency rule.
“The Attorney General’s claims are maliciously cherry-picked and come from unverified sources that allow him to promulgate disgusting, obstructive, and misleading information into an emergency rule,” PROMO said in a statement. “It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the real threat to Missourians is the attorney general himself.”
Social media users on TikTok, Twitter and Tumblr ensured that Bailey’s office would have plenty of evidence to sift through for the investigation, flooding the site with fake complaints and other ephemera.
When the online form first launched, it lacked a CAPTCHA, which savvy Twitter users quickly used to their advantage by using bots to spam the site. Users also employed a generator to churn out fake names and fake Missouri addresses. Others just dumped text into the complaint form, ranging from the entire script of the “Bee Movie,” to Billy May’s OxiClean sales pitch, to Walter White’s introductory monologue in “Breaking Bad.” TikTok users said they submitted the “most raunchiest fanfic from AO3” and “a saucy love story of Mario and Luigi.”
“I knew those weird fanfics I read at 3am would come in handy,” one TikTok commenter said.
Many submitted elaborate anecdotes of woke moms taking their kids “to the corner gender clinic to get transed” and complaints of “too many men getting gender affirming care via viagra.” Another tip referencing “The Crucible” joked, “I saw goody proctor injecting estrogen with the devil.”
The tip form added a CAPTCHA on Thursday, but that alone wasn’t enough to deter the trolls. The form was removed from the attorney general’s site by Friday morning.
Spamming tip forms, colloquially referred to by detractors as “snitch lines,” isn’t new. Texas’ abortion whistleblower site was shut down in 2021 after activists flooded it with Shrek porn. Amid mass protests following the death of George Floyd in 2020, activists spammed law enforcement agency tip lines with K-pop fancams and videos of police brutality against protestors. Relentless trolling has become a form of protest against draconian surveillance.
The tip line is part of a larger “investigation” that Missouri’s attorney general is using to target the state’s trans community. Earlier this month, Bailey announced an emergency directive that severely restricts access to gender-affirming care in the state.
The new restrictions, which will go into effect on April 27, will require patients to attend 15 sessions of therapy over the course of 18 months before they can receive puberty blockers, hormonal medication or gender-affirming surgery. In the emergency ruling, Bailey referenced the state’s consumer protection law, and claimed that he is “charged with protecting consumers, including minors, from harm.”
The emergency rule cited a disputed whistleblower report alleging that a transgender youth center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital rushed patients into gender-affirming care without informed consent.
The ACLU of Missouri argues that Bailey’s emergency rule is based on debunked claims, not scientific evidence.
“Gender-affirming care is critical in helping transgender adolescents succeed in school, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, live authentically as themselves, and dream about their futures,” the ACLU of Missouri tweeted. “This emergency regulation will have a drastically negative impact on transgender youth, compounding the prejudice, discrimination, violence, and other forms of stigma they continue to face in their daily lives.”